Into the Great Wide Open: Hiking With Your K-9 Companion
Outdoor adventures are fun for the whole family, dogs included. Hiking is a great way to spend quality time together and everyone benefits from the fresh air and exercise. Dogs are happy to be included and nature is an intriguing alternative to the routine of dog parks and sidewalk jaunts.
Before you lace up your trusty hiking boots and head for the hills, consider these tips to keeping your favourite four-legged friend safe and secure:
Your Dog’s Age and Physical Fitness Level
Older dogs in poor physical health are happy to stay home with friends or caregivers; they’ll also be much safer. Healthy dogs are typically eager to hit the ground running (literally!), just make sure they have the physical conditioning to keep up with the intensity of the hike. Most importantly, keep your dog comfortably cool and consistently hydrated, hiking can be hard work! Your veterinarian can help you decide the level of activity appropriate for your dog.
Park and Trail Rules, Regulations and Etiquette
Before you pack your car and head out, call ahead to ensure the park or trail is pet-friendly. Some parks and trails prohibit dogs, so avoid frustration by doing your research ahead of time and targeting dog-friendly sites. Even in dog-friendly locales, leashes are a safety must and control of your dog should be maintained at all times. Take care to select a leash that will afford your dog a degree of comfort and freedom, but at the same time possess the strength and durability to keep him safe and secure.
While it is tempting to want your dog to enjoy nature’s solitude and sprint about the trees untethered, be vigilante about safety. Besides potentially disturbing other hikers, your dog could get lost in a large, unfamiliar space and find himself frightened and confused. A strong, safe leash is your dog’s safest option and his best defence against becoming lost or injured. Don’t forget to secure your dog’s collar, complete with an identification tag listing your family’s contact information.
You’ve researched your hike route and ensured your dog’s safety by choosing a strong leash and identifying him in case of loss. Now it’s time for provisions!
Food and water are essential supplies to bring when going on a hike. A lightweight, collapsible water dish is a must-pack and protein-rich food and treats will maintain your dog’s strength. The entire family should take care to hydrate with clean, cool drinking water and your dog is no different. Try not to let your dog drink unfiltered water from puddles or bodies of water that may contain illness-causing bacteria.
Clothes and Boots
We all like our body temperatures to commensurate with the season – cool in the warm weather, warm in the cool weather – and dogs are no different. Most dogs benefit from at least a thin layer of fabric to shield their bodies from the elements (and keep them as clean as possible!). Boots are a great option for dogs whose paw pads are sensitive to salt, ice and sharp debris.
Even on a family hike, the rules of ‘stoop and scoop’ still apply. Don’t forget to pack your favourite biodegradable poop bags and most importantly – use them! Drop soiled bags into your nearest waste receptacle upon leaving the park or trail.
Thank you so much for all you do
Thank you so much for all you do every day to rescue animals in need. I can’t imagine the terrible situations that you see every day. It is great that you have the heart to help. Keep up the good work.